Providing Feedback

Tips to Keep in Mind

(adapted from Susan M. Heathfield, Your Guide to Human Resources)

  • Effective feedback is specific, not general.
  • Effective feedback focuses on a specific behavior, not on a person or their intentions.
  • The best feedback is sincerely and honestly aims to help.
  • Successful feedback describes actions or behavior that the individual can do something about.
  • Whenever possible, feedback that is requested is more powerful. Ask permission to provide feedback. Say, "I'd like to give you some feedback about the presentation, is that okay with you?"
  • Effective feedback involves the sharing of information and observations. It does not include advice unless you have permission or advice was requested.
  • Effective feedback is well timed. Whether the feedback is positive or constructive, provide the information as closely tied to the event as possible.
  • Effective feedback involves what or how something was done, not why. Asking why is asking people about their motivation and that provokes defensiveness.
  • Check to make sure the other person understood what you communicated by using a feedback loop, such as asking a question or observing changed behavior.
  • Effective feedback is as consistent as possible. If the actions are great today, they're great tomorrow. If the policy violation merits discipline, it should always merit discipline.

Also Remember:

  • Feedback is communication to a person or a team of people regarding the effect their behavior is having on another person, the organization, or the team.
  • Positive feedback involves telling someone about good performance. Make this feedback timely, specific, and frequent.
  • Recognition for effective performance is a powerful motivator. Most people want more recognition, so recognition fosters more of the appreciated actions.
  • Constructive feedback alerts an individual to an area in which performance could improve. Constructive feedback is not criticism; it is descriptive and should always be directed to the action, not the person.
  • The main purpose of constructive feedback is to help people understand where they stand in relation to expected and/or productive job behavior.